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The Outdoor Girls in a Winter Camp / Or, Glorious Days on Skates and Ice Boats By Laura Lee Hope Characters: 10723

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02

"How many dresses are you going to take?"

"I wonder if we ought to bring along something for evening wear?"

"Anyhow we want something warm."

"And what about shoes-or boots? How would it do to wear leggings, like the boy scouts?"

"I'm sure we won't want anything like evening dresses. Where could we wear them up in the wilderness?"

"Why, perhaps there may be a lumbermen's dance."

"Oh, listen to Mollie! As if we'd go!"

"Why not? Of course we could go if we had a chaperone," and Mollie, who had proposed this, looked rather defiantly at her chums.

The other foregoing remarks had been shot back and forth so quickly, in such zig-zag fashion, that it was difficult to tell who said which; in many cases the authors themselves being hardly able to identify their verbal creations.

The girls were at the home of Grace, discussing, as they had been doing ever since it was practically decided that they were to go to camp, what they should take, and what to wear. It was far from being settled yet.

"Well, I'm sure of one thing," remarked Grace, "and that is that, as Amy says, we ought to have at least two warm cloth dresses."

"An extra skirt, too, would be no harm," added Betty. "If we go out in deep snow the skirt is sure to get wet, and then we could change on coming in."

"Yes, I think that would be wise," admitted Mollie. "I am almost tempted to wear-bloomers!"

"Mollie Billette!"

"I don't care," and she spoke defiantly. "More and more girls are coming to wear them. Why, if we wear them in the school gym. I don't see any harm in using them when we go camping."

"But up there-where we may meet a lot of rough lumbermen, who wouldn't understand-I'd like it, really I would," confessed Betty. "But I guess we'd better not. It's different here, and at school."

"Yes, I guess it is," admitted Mollie with a sigh. "But we can wear skirts of a sensible length, and leggings. I'm glad we thought of those. They'll be much more comfortable than boots, and not so heavy. But what about a light dress? Do you think we'd have any use for one? There's no use taking along a lot of clothes we won't wear."

"That's right," said Grace. "I spoke to papa about it, and he said that while there were often little affairs among the lumbermen and the residents up there, they never thought of wearing light clothes in winter. They'd think it queer if we did, and went to any of the parties. So let's don't bother with our fancy duds."

"Good!" cried Betty. "We'll be real outdoor girls, and dress as such. Well, so much is settled. I'll make a note of that," and she proceeded to set down the facts agreed to.

"Let me see," she mused, "what's this?" and she frowned over some cabalistic marks on her paper.

"Can't you read your own writing?" asked Amy with a smile.

"Well, it looks like 'hats,' but I'm sure I didn't mean that. We settled that we'd wear Tam-o'-Shanter affairs, or caps, so it can't be hats. Oh, I have it. It's 'eats'-what are we going to do about food?"

"Papa says," spoke Grace, "that we can get lots of canned stuff up there. The store that used to supply the lumbermen is open. And we can send some cases of things from here. We can get fresh meat three times a week, and eggs from the farmers when they have any. So make a note of that, Little Captain."

"I will. But, as I understand it, the lumbermen have all left your father's camp now-it's in the hands of a receiver. Maybe the store will close."

"No, father said the country people depend on that store for their things. It wasn't just a camp grocery. It will be all right."

"Well, that settles the two important items of food and clothing," remarked Betty, checking them off on her list. "Of course we'll have to do considerable ordering, and decide on what variety we want to take, but that can be done later.

"Next, let me see what is next-oh, yes, how are we going to get to the camp-walk, ride, or--"

"Skate!" interrupted Mollie. "Why can't we skate there? It isn't so very far."

"And drag our baggage and sandwiches along behind us on sleds?" asked Betty.

"Too much work," declared Amy. "Let's hire a sled, get up a straw ride and go in style."

"Oh, say, what about Mr. Jallow? Do you think he will make trouble up there?" inquired Amy, glancing rather apprehensively at Grace. "You know you said your father told you about his beginning to cut timber and--"

"Oh, we needn't worry about that," declared Grace with confidence. "The strip in dispute is far enough from the camp."

"Isn't it mean to have even that little worry, when it seemed as if everything was going to be so nice?" murmured Mollie. "And that Alice Jallow! I met her and Kittie on the street yesterday afternoon and I just cut them both-dead."

"Mollie, you never did!" cried gentle Amy.

"Yes I did, and I'll do it again. I guess they were surprised, for I heard them chattering like two-two crows-when I passed on."

"Serves them right-the way they talked about Amy," exclaimed Grace.

"Oh, but I don't want you girls to get into trouble on my account-to fight my-my battles for me," faltered Amy. "It is unpleasant enough as it is, without making it worse."

"Now don't you worry, little one," said Betty soothingly. "We can look after ourselves, and I'd like to know why we should not break a lance or two in your


"Of course!" cried Mollie.

"You're a member of our club," declared Grace, "and club members must stand up for each other."

"Certainly," agreed Betty. "I don't like quarrels any more than you girls do, but I do think that Alice Jallow ought to know that we resent what she said."

"Oh, she knows it all right!" exclaimed Mollie. "I took good care that she should! She's a regular-cat. No other word expresses what I mean, and I don't care if it isn't a nice thing to say about a girl. She deserves it."

Amy flushed and looked troubled.

"Don't let's talk about it," suggested Betty quickly, catching an appealing glance from her little chum. "We all know there isn't the least foundation for it, any more than there was at first, and that's an old story."

"Oh, yes, there is a little more basis for it," said Amy in a low voice, and with a hasty look around.

"There is?" cried Betty, before she thought. "Oh, I didn't mean that!" she added quickly. "Don't tell us-unless it will make you feel better, Amy."

"It will, I think. I have been going to ever since the day Alice hurt me so, but I couldn't seem to come to it. But of late there has been a change in-in Mr. and Mrs. Stonington."

"Don't you call them Uncle and Aunt any more?" asked Grace in a low voice.

"I do to their faces-yes, but I don't think of them that way," and Amy's voice faltered.

"Why?" Betty wanted to know.

"Because, by the merest accident, I found the other day, a piece of paper in-in Mr. Stonington's desk. I had read it before I realized it and it intimated that a mistake had been made in assuming that the envelope pinned on my dress, when I was rescued from the flood, was really intended to be on me. In that case Mr. and Mrs. Stonington would be no relation to me."

"But if the envelope with their names and address on it was found on you, why shouldn't it refer to you?" asked Mollie.

"Because there were two babies rescued in that flood."

"Two babies?" It was a general chorus of surprise from the three girls.

"Yes. I was one. There was another. A man saved both of us, and set us on an improvised raft. He found the envelope lying loose near us, and as it was nearer to me he pinned it on my dress, assuming that it had come from my sleeve. But it may have been on the other baby."

"How did this become known?" asked Grace.

"Through this man. It seems that some newspaper reporter, on the anniversary of the flood in Rocky Ford-that's where I was found-this reporter wrote up the former incidents about it. He interviewed several who had made rescues, and this man was one. He told of having found two babies, and one paper. I know Mr. and Mrs. Stonington, who read this account, must have had their doubts about me raised anew, for I overheard them talking very earnestly about it."

"Poor Amy!" sighed Grace.

"Yes, it's dreadful not to know who you are," said Amy, with a rather cheerless smile. "But I am getting used to it now. It did hurt, though, to hear what Alice said about it that day."

"I should think so-the mean thing!" snapped Mollie, her quick temper on the verge of rising.

"But I know, no matter what happens, that Mr. and Mrs. Stonington will always care for me," Amy went on. "If it were not for that I don't know what I'd do. Now let's talk of something else-something more pleasant."

"Oh, this isn't unpleasant for us!" Betty hastened to assure her chum. "Only of course we know how you must feel about it. If we could only help you in some way!"

"I'm afraid you can't," said Amy softly. "It's good of you, though."

"It's like one of those queer puzzle stories, that end with a bump, in the middle, and leave you guessing-like 'The Lady or the Tiger,'" asserted Mollie. "I can't bear them. I get to thinking of the solution in the night and it sets me wild."

"Yes, it is like that," agreed Amy gently. "But I don't see how it can ever be known on which baby the envelope belonged."

"What became of the other baby?" asked Grace.

"I never heard, and the man who rescued me did not know either," answered Amy. "He turned us both over to the relief authorities, and, assuming that I belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Stonington, because of their address on the envelope, on my sleeve, they sent for-for my uncle, as I suppose I ought to call him, though he may not be-and he has kept me ever since."

"But there is just as much chance that you were the baby on whom the paper was pinned, as to think that you were not," came somewhat positively from Betty.

"Yes, I suppose so," Amy agreed. "But, please, let's talk about going camping. I want to forget that I may be a-nobody."

"You'll never be that, Amy-to us!" declared Mollie, positively.

"Thank you, dear."

"The question still to be settled," broke in Betty, determined to change the conversation, "is how are we to go to camp. Shall we skate or sled or--"

"Ice boat!" cried the voice of Will Ford at the door. "Ladies, excuse me, but I have arrived at a most propitious time, I observe. I overheard what you said. Allow me to suggest-an ice boat!"

They looked at him with rather startled glances, and he added:

"Shall I explain?"

"As it seems to be an unguessable riddle-do," urged his sister. "Did you bring any chocolates?"

"I did."

"Pay as you enter," said Mollie, laughingly.

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